Scottish Gemmological association


Upcoming Events and Meetings


8th November:   Maria Maclennan  on Forensic Jewellery


This presentation will discuss some of the potential techniques for tracing and identifying jewellery recovered with human remains that may have relevance to forensic identification.  Jewellery has personal, religious and cultural significance, with connection to both place and geographic region.  Marks or characteristics such as inscriptions, hallmarks, engravings and serial numbers in addition to gemmological markings, can all prove useful in tracing an item’s origins or in narrowing the potential identity of a victim. 

Maria Maclennan is an award-winning designer, researcher, facilitator and educator currently based in Dundee. Her current PhD research explores the interdisciplinary area of Forensic Jewellery - the first and currently only research of its kind in the world. Maria has previously worked alongside a number of high-profile organisations within government, law enforcement and education; deploying across the globe to assist with identifying the jewellery recovered after mass-disasters, and delivering talks worldwide.  She has appeared on live television and radio broadcasts internationally discussing her development of the field of Forensic Jewellery.   More info here - 

If you would like to join us afterwards for a drink or something to eat, we will have a table booked at the nearby Cafe Grande.


29th November:  Stuart Pool on Responsibly-sourced Gemstones

This talk will be about the mine-to-market journey of the gemstones of Sri Lanka, highlighting the artisanal mining and will also cover the range of stones that are found there.

Stuart Pool is a specialist in responsibly-mined and fully-traceable coloured gemstones, mainly sourced directly from mines in Sri Lanka and Tanzania. Stuart works very closely with local mine owners to provide a "mine-to- market" service, from extracting the rough gem material and the cutting and polishing of gemstones, right up to the sale of gems to the end customer, both wholesale and retail.

Stuart's companies support charitable projects in both Sri Lanka and the UK and he is also committed to educating the widest possible audience about the issues within the jewellery sector.  More info here - 


In December we have no meeting scheduled, instead we will be gathering at the Salisbury Arms in Edinburgh on Tuesday the 12th for a pre-Christmas dinner celebrationMenu



PASt meetings and events

18th October:   Marcus McCallum on Included Quartz and other Gemmological Curiosities

We were delighted to see Marcus back in our midst, with some really unusual specimens for us to look at, together with a selection of his stock.  A good time was had by all!




27th September:  Richard Taylor was speaking on Colour Perception Testing, a pdf outlining his presentation is below.

Richard gave us a very enjoyable and informative talk and he braved the rather erratic wifi available to us with humour and perseverance!  Our sincere thanks.

"How well do colour communication systems work within the context of the gem and jewellery industries?

A recurring challenge within the jewellery and gem industries is how to reliably communicate colour and the development of a methodology to measure and/or quantify colour in a reliable and reproducible manner that has meaning and relevance to the human condition. Historically colour communication has relied upon the use of descriptive names but over time the meanings can change and if value and profit becomes involved the temptation to expand or alter a ‘colours’ boundaries for personal gain is created.

Colour communication therefore creates an interesting challenge and a moral dilemma for the gem and jewellery industries, with many failed attempts attesting to the challenging nature of the problem. The difficulty some may find strange is not our ability to measure colour accurately, this is easily achieved using modern scientific instruments, it’s the fact the way humans ‘see’ colour is fundamentally different to scientific measurements therefore the value measured frequently does not relate or correspond to the colour we ‘see’. This complexity is further expanded when considering that the ‘colour’ of a gemstone can be a complex combination of varying hues tones and saturations,  from which the ‘apparent’ endeavour in colour communication is to select a single colour to best represent this perceived complex image."

For pdf of presentation, click here -

Following on from this talk, Richard is looking for some assistance with his ongoing research and would be happy to discuss it further with anyone interested.  Richard's research is based on gemstones, however it has a much wider relevance and could be of interest to anyone involved in the Arts and Design disciplines.


On the 30th of August we had a very informative workshop with Andrew Fellows of Birmingham City University.

"So you think you know your diamonds from your cubic zirconias and synthetic moissanites?  From glass through to bismuth germinate, there are far more diamond simulants both on the market today and historically than many people realise.  With a chance to see a range of these natural and synthetic stones up close, this evening looks at the timeline for these simulants, and offers advice on testing procedures, and how to differentiate them from true diamonds"

Andrew gave a short presentation and then turned us loose on the various and wide ranging examples of simulants her had brought along.  There was even a very large CZ - 80mm. in diameter, 50mm in depth and weighing in at 3176ct!   As ever with Andrew, we had a really enjoyable time and we are very grateful for his efforts on our behalf.  We were also very happy to welcome his parents to our event.

A pdf of his presentation notes for this workshop can be found here -

2017 Annual General Meeting

Our AGM was held on the 9th of August, at the Eric Liddell Centre.   We had several apologies from members unable to attend and the result was maybe a slightly smaller attendance than previous years, but a still very select group!   Minutes will be issued in due course.  Chairman's Report

This was followed by a very informative presentation by Carmen Garcia-Carballido on her recent trip to Australia.   Judging by the photos and enthusiastic tales told by Carmen, she and her husband Peter had a truly memorable time visiting areas of Australia renowned for opal and sapphire production and meeting with several fascinating miners and characters along the way.  She hopes this was the first trip of many!

Carmen also brought to the meeting a variety of samples of rough and finished material which she acquired on her journey.  After the talk, we had an enjoyable time examining these.

Our sincere thanks and appreciation go to Carmen and to her husband Peter for his assistance.

carmen opal talk3crop.jpg


lauriston Castle Outing

We had a very enjoyable afternoon out at Lauriston Castle.  Our guide Mike did an excellent job of showing us the interiors and telling the history, not only of the castle itself, but also of some of the memorable owners.  Everywhere we turned, there was something else to see - another visit might be called for!

Some photos to whet your appetite:


SGA award to BCU Gemmology and Jewellery Studies Degree graduating Student

On the the 13th of June, Birmingham City University hosted an Industry Evening and also made awards to individual students. Within the Jewellery Department, an award was presented to the graduating Gemmology and Jewellery Studies Degree student with the highest marks, Delyth du Plooy.

The prize, a place to attend the 2018 Scottish Gemmological Association Conference, was donated by the SGA. Alistir Tait, our Chairman, attended the event and seems to have enjoyed himself!


2018 Conference

Our next Conference will be from the 4th to the 6th of May

and will be held at the Westerwood Hotel at Dullatur near Cumbernauld (a bit closer to Glasgow than Edinburgh!), from the 4th to the 6th of May. Transport links from Glasgow or Edinburgh are good. Detailed information will be available on our website from November and booking will open mid-December.


2017 Conference Photos

There are a selection of photos now available to view, just click here -


GEM-A trip to Sri-Lanka, October 2017

If you are looking for a gemmological holiday with like minded people this autumn, this Gem-A trip to Sri-Lanka might be of interest.  More info -



GemSet Competition 2017

This year's 1st Prize was awarded to Monika Nemanyte of Glasgow City College,  for her hand made mixed metal, enamelled and gemset pendant.

  To see the full list of those who received awards and photos of their submissions, please click here -


Happy Birthday Alan!

On Wednesday 22nd March we had an early surprise celebration of our President Alan Hodgkinson's 80th Birthday.  Cake and fizz enjoyed by all who were there -

Congratulations Alan!


previous MEETINgs

On Wednesday, 22nd March, we had Godfrey Fitton talking on The Natural History of Blue John.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable presentation and we are hoping to follow it up with a summer outing to Lauriston Castle.  Details will follow shortly.  Meantime, Godfrey has generously allowed us access to the Powerpoint presentation which accompanied his talk.

  More -


At February's meeting Alan Hodgkinson was our speaker for the evening and gave us the benefit of his observations and insights from this year's Tucson Show.  As always his presentation was full of detail, accompanied with interesting anecdotes and, as ever, made those who weren't in Tucson this year wish they had been!

Alan also returned with The Hanneman Trophy, awarded for Contributions to the Literature of Gemology.  Alan said he was honoured that the name Hodgkinson would be following in the footsteps of previous recipients including:  Anderson, Webster, Liddicoate, Sinkankas, Pough, Arern, Bruton, Gubelin, Nassau and Koivula.

Our congratulations to Alan!

alan h with Hannerman trophy1.jpg


Idar-Oberstein cutting

On the 25th January 2017, we were delighted to have Deborah Mazza talking on Idar-Oberstein cutting.  As always, she showed great knowledge and enthusiasm for her subject.

 Deborah discussed gem carving as an art form and also considered the question of skill/craftsmanship vs talent.  Gem carving has been developed to a very high standard due to modern technology and particularly to the skill of Idar-Oberstein artists.

 We were treated to an excellent presentation, mainly concentrating on three of the Idar- Oberstein cutters she has in-depth knowledge of and regards highly.  To give a flavour of the content of her talk to those not able to attend, this link is to a video of Manfred Wild, one of the cutter she chose to discuss.

There were also some examples of Idar-Oberstein craftsmanship available to view and handle.



Our November meeting was a presentation from Sarah Steele of Ebor Jet Works in Whitby. 

Sarah's enthusiasm, knowledge and experience came shining through and we were treated to an evening packed full of information, images and examples of related (and not so related!), materials, both in rough form and as finished pieces.

Our thanks to Sarah for the time and energy she put into this presentation and we look forward to hearing about her next exploits.



Scottish Sapphires

Our October meeting was a highly enjoyable talk given by Ian Combe on Scottish Sapphires. The meeting was well attended, as was our meal afterwards, and we all greatly appreciated Ian's efforts on our behalf.  After recounting stories of his (and that of a few of our other members!) involvement with Scottish Sapphires we had the opportunity for a closer look at several cut stones, some rough and some finished jewellery.

 We do have a couple of photos and this PDF originally printed by The Times (we think!) in 1995.

This PDF of Ian's presentation gives an outline of what he covered for those who were unable to attend.



Jade Talk and Workshop.

On Wednesday 28th September, Andrew Fellows presented us with a workshop on Jade.  Andrew is well known within British Gemmology circles and is a regular attendee at our Conferences.  He is a professional gemmologist, diamond-grader and ODL Tuition Manager at Gem-A in London.

jade talk people1.JPG

After a short talk on the sources and different kinds of jade, we were able to handle and look closely at a selection of specimens from Andrew's personal collection.  Our sincere thanks to Andrew for making the trip north to talk to us and we look forward to his next visit!

Our 'after meeting' suppers are getting popular.  We had 16 attendees for our visit to Cafe Grande and there have been positive reports!

For those who were unable to attend the actual meeting, Andrew has generously given permission for us to include a pdf of the illustrations for his talk.  To view, click here -


Burma Trip

As many will be aware, last year several of our more intrepid members undertook a Gemmological Trip to Myanmar, or Burma as we often still call it.

For photos, please click here



We have sent out email reminders that our renewal Membership Fees are due.  Once again we are holding the annual full membership charge at £25 and the student fee at £10.  The 2017 Renewal Form can be found under the New Membership Application Form here - -

Payment can be made as follows, quoting your name as a reference:

Our preferred payment method is by Direct Banking to:  The Scottish Gemmological Association, A/c No: 00202367, Sort Code: 83 26 02

Payment can also be made by Credit Card / Debit Card using Paypal to

To pay by cheque, return the completed form along with your cheque to:- SGA Conference, c/o Alistir Tait,  116A Rose Street, Edinburgh. EH2 3JF.

To pay by bank transfer, or for further details, please e-mail


Postal Address

Please send all correspondence to:

The Scottish Gemmological Association

c/o Alistir Wood Tait

116A Rose Street



Email address